How then, are we to use fiction as a method if the outlined concept of futurity resigns us to a closed horizon of politico-fictional potential? To fiction a political imaginary against this system-time we require an alternate sense of time, and thus it is at this point that we return to Bergson (and the embellishment upon his thought by Deleuze) who conceives of a metaphysics of time that can be read as an alternative method of fictioning.
To understand this ontology, we must first establish the status of the actual and virtual. In Deleuze’s Bergsonian system, the primary claim is that “the virtual is opposed not to the real but to the actual. The virtual is fully real in so far as it is virtual.”1 This way of thinking forces us to recognise a dissolution of the previous positioning of real and possible as dichotomous zones in which fictions are rendered. Here, the virtual is simultaneously real and possible. Furthermore, it becomes clear that the opposition between present and future (which had previously been equivocated to the opposition between real and possible) is no longer of primary concern as the future in this schema is understood as “a past that has never been present”2 such that any ‘future’ is represented as an articulation of a potential realisation of the past. As Bergson says: “to foresee consists of projecting into the future what has been perceived in the past, or of imagining for a later time a new grouping, in a new order, of elements already perceived.”3 Thus, the virtual and the actual (and the future and the present) are not designated as localities like the real and the possible, but are best conceived of as “phases of a continuous process.”4 The future does not need to be instantiated in present to be real, it is merely actualised within this continuous process and is always-already ‘real’ even prior to actualisation. Given this, time is best understood as virtual, a “continuous progress of the past which gnaws into the future and which swells as it advances.”5 It is an insatiable excess that blooms without measure, with no spatio-temporal limit demarcating it from any other ‘moment’ of time. Furthermore, if we accept Bergsonian time we see that, unlike Shaw and Reeve-Evison’s mode of fictioning there is no outside from which the future can bear upon the present as a distinct site of temporality. Instead, the ‘future’ is an emergent property of the past-present relation that does not need letting in from ‘the abstract-outside’.
To understand the fiction at the heart of Bergsonian time requires an understanding of its internal structure as constituted in opposition to a certain conception of ‘geometric’, or ‘mathematical’ time. Bergson’s articulation of time comes from a concern he had with the imposition of the ‘geometric’ order onto the ‘vital’. Whilst Aristotelian Time is determined by Space, Bergson maintained that time was irreducible to any “linear progression of the measure of movement”6 and, as such there is a lexical movement required to reconceptualise a temporality previously thought of as a spatialised past-present-future. He reconceptualises this lexicon in Creative Evolution against a ‘finalist’ conception of Time – a traditional teleology of the reality of Time, following a distinct order ‘guaranteed due to first principles’. In other words, Retroactive Futurity. The future is fixed for the finalist – dependent upon a linear ordering of time in its ternary form – whereas for Bergson, the future does not depend upon any sequential progression of time for its reality, seeing it instead as a “reality which is making itself in a reality which is unmaking itself”7 – already contained within the present. Bergson maintains that finalism appears only as an inversion of mechanism, in which there is a substitution of “the attraction of the future for the impulsion of the past.”8 Thus, it now emerges that the Kantian form of fictioning is a rectilinear mathematical mode organised point-to-point, supervening upon a notion of the future as a possible spatio-temporal realm in order to fix the present in its determination towards this possibility.
The eschewal of a linear progression of time isn’t purely Bergsonian however, and the spectre of Hegel haunts Bergson’s temporal logic as it does Kant’s, also presenting a metaphysics of time in which the linear sequencing of temporality is scrambled and the causality of the past-as-origin no longer has primacy. In his Mechanics, Hegel defines time as “the being which, in that it is, is not, and in that it is not, is”9, articulating a twofold time in which (1) past and the future are seen as passing instants of the present’s becoming and (2) Time is non-identical with itself. The dialectical synthesis of time is the “negative unity of self-externality”10, irreducible to a singular point and differentiated from itself temporally, exteriorising the present from its past (and vice versa) to give itself a history.
The noteworthy point of difference between Bergson and Hegel concerns the process of negation. As Keith Ansell-Pearson clarifies: “In the Hegelian schema of difference a thing differs from itself only because it differs in the first place from all that it is not. Difference is, therefore, said to be constituted at the point of contradiction and negation.” 10 So, whilst Hegel’s Spirit moves through time, as Time, via negation, Bergson maintains the nuance of duration: situated against becoming precisely as it is a multiplicity without negation. In Bergsonism Deleuze defines Bergsonian time as possessing four key ontological characteristics: (1) Contemporaneity (past as contemporary with the present). (2) Co-existence (past co-existing/is simultaneous with itself at every juncture). (3) Pre-existence (past pre-exists the present – i.e. present is actualised from the past as a ‘contracted degree’). (4) Second tier co-existence (the entirety of the past co-exists with the present – i.e. the present itself is the past)11 In this final sense the present (in being) is not and the past (in being) is, much like Hegel. However, as Catherine Malabou clarifies, Hegel believes that “time is and is not to the degree that its moments cancel each other out; the present is a ‘’now’ which exists, but as it is something which passes, it will…almost immediately…exist no longer12 whereas Bergson believes that the present exists simultaneously with the past (second tier co-existence). Hence, any conception of the past-present ceasing in order to transition to a ‘future’ is to mistake the concurrency of the future which is actualised in its simultaneity with the present, demonstrating a clear divide from what might be seen as a Hegelian form of fictioning.
Given this, I suggest that any formalization of Bergsonian fictioning must function in a similar manner. It must avoid the faulty decisions of a Kantian science-fictional schema, which scissions the world between the ‘is’ and the ‘ought’ and which forges straight path to the future based upon speculation. Instead, I look to Levi-Bryant’s essay ‘Towards a Realist Pan-Constructivism’ in which he moves to separate the notion of ‘what is’ from that of what ‘ought’ (to be) – and suggest that Bergsonian fiction operates in the chasm opened up in their decoupling, that place of what could be and which becomes, given that it already is. It is the temporal logic that operates immanent in the relationship between past and present which sees the past extend itself along a new vector, towards an alternate form of counter-futurity. I believe that Kodwo Eshun utilises such a form of Bergsonian fiction in his considerations of Afrofuturism and “the alternate futures the present world makes possible.”13 The logic through which the present makes future(s) possible, represents clearly Bergsonian fiction, locating the nexus of the future as a determination evinced in the relationship between the past and the present, providing a new method by which to construct a political imaginary.
In Further Considerations of Afrofuturism Eshun forges a connection between capital and the future, drawing upon Mark Fisher’s concept of ‘science fiction (SF) capital’, which delineates a circuit of ‘positive feedback’ between future-focused media and capital, in which information about the future circulates as commodity, and time is an asset of the powerful who “employ futurists and draw power from the futures they endorse, thereby condemning the disempowered to live in the past.”14 In this schema, a fictioning from above manufactures a closed system, much as we have noted with RF, where Capital perniciously forecloses on any openings to the Outside, deploying fictions in order to avoid entropy, feeding back on itself from its possible future in order to redouble its existing boundaries and re-order its Inside, reaffirming domination of those who live in its now-past. This negentropic function of Capital becomes clear through the fictive method, as the manipulation of time-variables to prevent disorder and realise a static present in which its possible future is always being made real.
As a result, Eshun guides his fictioning through a clear Bergsonian premise, where control is not required over a future to come, but the future as already present. In this vein he notes “…fiction is a means through which to preprogram the present… never concerned with the future, but rather with engineering feedback between its preferred future and its becoming present.”15 However, from where is this feedback engineered, and what becomes-present if not the possible future? Is this not just mobilising a form of RF ‘from below’? I suggest that in this mode of thinking the ‘future’ surfaces in relation to, out of, and alongside the past-present; that which Deleuze terms “the fifth aspect of actualisation: a kind of displacement by which the past is embodied only in terms of a present that is different from that which it has been.”16Here the past is embodied as a differentiated present, with the present recognised as a ‘preferred future’ already implicated in the dimension of the past-present. As a result, reconfigurations of the political imaginary should be taken to invoke an Icarian flight to the inside, where fictions (Eshun terms them ‘counter-futures’ – new futures emerging from the same past as the present) are architected by the Afrofuturist, articulated in a ‘future conditional’ syntax that enunciates the latent potential of the virtual past through the actualisation of the present in order to construct speculative futures against the ‘outside’ of the present-fiction of (SF) capital.
In sum, we see the way in which Eshun makes use of a Bergsonian schema to re-conceptualise the way futurity is conceived and realised, where Afrofuturist fictioning brings forth the future that is below, clawing at the skin of the present from the Inside. This contrasts it clearly with the RF model, which progresses from an Outside already determined by the linear mechanics of the ternary form of past-present-future, and also demonstrates how both RF and Bergsonian Fiction can be parsed as alternative methods for reading and understanding philosophical and political thought.
 Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (London: The Athlone Press, 1994), 208
 Joe Hughes, Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition (London: Continuum, 2009), 111
 Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution. (New York: Dover Publications Inc. 1998), 22
 John Mullarkey, Bergson and Philosophy. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), 58
 Bergson. Creative Evolution, 20
 Jose Rosales, Bergsonian Science-Fiction: Kodwo Eshun, Gilles Deleuze, & Thinking the Reality of Time, 3
 Bergson, Creative Evolution, 259
 Bergson, Creative Evolution, 55
 G.W.F. Hegel ‘Mechanics’ in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature: Volume 1, (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1970), 229 Hegel, Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, 229
 Keith Ansell-Pearson, Germinal Life: The Difference and Repetition of Deleuze. (Oxon: Routledge, 1999), 21
 For more on this see Levi-Bryant’s ‘A Brief Note on the Virtual’ at: https://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2006/08/26/abrief-note-on-the-virtual/
 Catherine Malabou. The Future of Hegel. (Oxon: Routledge, 2005), 13
 Rosales, Bergsonian Science-Fiction, 4
 Kodwo Eshun, Further Considerations of Afrofuturism in The New Centennial Review, Vol.3, Number 2 (2003), 289
 Eshun, Further Considerations of Afrofuturism, 290
 Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism. (New York: Zone Books, 1991), 71
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